In an interview with France Inter on 28 August, former prime minister Alain Juppé told Patrick Cohen that one of the fundamental points of cleavage between the candidates for UMP president was Islamophobia.
Last June in an interview with Jean Jacques Bourdin the mayor of Bordeaux had already expressed his disagreement with the Islamophobic politics that the UMP promoted. For him, respect for secularism is “respect for all religions”.
“My vision of French identity is quite clear”, the former UMP president stated. “These are republican principles”, “the principle of secularism” which “is not a war against religion, but respect for all religions”. “For me, one of the fundamental points of cleavage is the attitude towards Islam”, he continued. “Islamophobia that generalises the problems of that religion is contrary to the principle of secularism and the principle of republicanism. So this is for me an extremely sensitive question.”
He also said that one of the problems for the opposition party was that half of its activists and sympathisers find the ideas of the Front National compatible with their own. Alain Juppé appeared to be pointing the finger particularly at Jean-François Copé’s hostile positions towards Islam and Muslims, which pose a problem even inside his own party, provoking discord.
The manipulation of questions about Islam which we witnessed during the presidential election campaign, and which had the aim of winning votes from Marine Le Pen, appears to deeply disturb some of the highest ranking figures in the UMP.